The Google car has returned! Following last year’s arrival of Google’s fleet of cars to Irish streets, particularly with a focus on mapping the five major cities of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford, they’re back to “fill a few gaps”.
Last March, Google cars arrived in Dublin with the aim of mapping out city centres plus suburban and outlying areas with an aim of launching its online panoramic mapping service Street View that gives users a car’s-eye view of streets while allowing them to virtually explore.
Originally, Google said that Street View for Ireland would be launched anywhere from three months to a year later and while this has not happened yet the return of the Google car aims to add some more street-level imagery before launch.
“We started driving in Ireland last summer to collect imagery to launch Street View in Ireland but want to fill a few gaps, and add a few more special sites,” said Google, adding that Ireland’s top tourist attractions and natural scenery will be part of this.
However, the Google cars coming to Irish shores this time around will be different following the recent revelation that Google had “mistakenly included code in our software that collected samples of payload data from Wi-Fi networks”.
In other words, the Google car did not just collect GPS information and imagery, it also collected information on private unencrypted Wi-Fi internet connections that would have included browsing history, saved passwords and so on. (Password-protected networks were not affected).
This Wi-Fi payload data was destroyed in May following a request by the Irish Data Protection Authority in the presence of an independent third party.
Google said of this second visit by the Google car: “We’d also like to take this opportunity to update everyone on some changes we’ve made to our cars. You may remember that in May we announced that we had mistakenly included code in our software in Street View cars that collected Wi-Fi payload data. As soon as we discovered our error, we not only announced that we would stop collecting all Wi-Fi data via our StreetView cars, we also grounded our entire fleet of vehicles so we could remove the equipment and discuss what had happened with local regulators.”